This first time I ever tried orzo pasta was in this Mediterranean pasta salad dish. I specifically remember the first time my Mom it, and I was in heaven. It was during the summer and my sister and I had just got home from a soccer game and we were starving. We stood at the kitchen counter and devoured the whole dish as we stood there. My mom came in and was mad we had eaten most of it, so we ended up making it again, but tripling the recipe! We kept the leftovers in the refrigerator that week and it instantly became a new family favorite. Now, as simple and totally anti-climatic as that story is, if I can remember the exact moment I first had this dish, then you know it’s going to be a winner!
I can (selfishly) say it’s the best Mediterranean pasta salad I’ve tried. But then again, I’m a huge fan of all of these ingredients! I even like capers! (But if you don’t, no harm in leaving them out!) I’ve also made this with regular black olives when I didn’t have kalamata on hand. I shouldn’t admit that since I think the kalamata olives totally make this dish….but if the taste is too strong for you, you could substitute. The recipe is pretty flexible that way.
Hope you all enjoy it!
Mediterranean Orzo Salad
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3 cups diced, cooked chicken
1/2 cup orzo pasta
1 cup halved cherry tomatoes
1 (6 oz.) jar marinated artichoke hearts, drained
1/2 cup chopped kalamata olives
1/3 cup craisins
1 Tbsp drained capers (optional)
For the Dressing:
6 Tbsp olive oil
2 1/2 Tbsp tarragon vinegar
1 Tbsp chopped fresh tarragon
1/2 Tbsp fresh lemon juice
1/2 Tbsp Dijon mustard
1 Tbsp sugar (optional)
salt and pepper, to taste
In a bowl, whisk together olive oil, vinegar, tarragon, lemon juice, mustard and sugar. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
Place chicken in a bowl and mix in 1/4 cup of the dressing.
Cook the orzo pasta according to package directions. Drain and rinse with cool water. Drain well. Transfer to a large bowl. Add chicken, tomatoes, artichoke hearts, olives, craisins and capers. Gradually stir in remaining dressing, tasting as you go (some people like it with heavy dressing and others like it lighter on the dressing!)
Refrigerate until ready to serve.